Lecce, the Florence of Pulgia

 

Lecce is on the Salento Peninsula, the heel of the boot, in southern Italy’s Puglia region and was most certainly on my agenda on my recent travels in Puglia. The climate is fairly mild although it can get very hot in summer. Lecce, sometimes called the Florence of the south, is the main city on Puglia’s Salento Peninsula. Because of the soft limestone that’s easy to work, Lecce became the center for the ornate architecture called the barocco leccese and the city is filled with Baroque monuments. The historic center is compact making it a great place for walking and its restaurants offer abundant fine food typical of Puglia. Also notable are the traditional handicrafts, especially the art of paper ‘mache’.

It is a lively town, with a well attended university, more than 40 churches and at least as many palazzi, all build or renovated between the 17th and 18th centuries. The city’s focal point is   Piazza del Duomo, or Cathedral Square. It dates top 12th C and has a massive bell tower.   Via Vittorio Emanuale is the main street lined with shops and cafes that runs between Piazza del Duomo and Piazza Sant’Oronzo.   Roman Amphitheater was built in the second century AD and once held 25,000 spectators. The amphitheater is partially excavated and concerts are held there.   Church of Santa Chiara, famous for its ceiling with paper mache’ decorations, is a short distance from the amphitheater.   Basilica of Santa Croce, on Via Umberto I, has a richly decorated facade and is considered the emblem of the city.

 

 

 

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